Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CIA Drone Program: Escalating Instability

The US has been warned that its use of drones to target suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan may violate international law.
Human rights investigator Phil Alston has finally come forth and stated the obvious: CIA drone strikes violate international law.
"My concern is that these drones, these Predators, are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

"The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons."
Admittedly difficult given that that is exactly what the CIA drone strikes are designed to do.

This news came on the heels of another report demonstrating that CIA drone strikes have increased "dramatically" during the Obama administration.
Since taking office, President Obama has sanctioned at least 41 Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed between 326 and 538 people, many of them, critics say, “innocent bystanders, including children,” according to a published report.
Based on a study just completed by the non-profit, New America Foundation of Washington, D.C., “the number of drone strikes has risen dramatically since Obama became President,” Mayer reports.

In fact, the first two strikes took place on Jan. 23, the President’s third day in office and the second of these hit the wrong house, that of a pro-government tribal leader that killed his entire family, including three children, one just five years of age.

At any time, the C.I.A. apparently has “multiple drones flying over Pakistan, scouting for targets,” the magazine reports. So many Predators and its more heavily armed companion, the Reaper, are being purchased that defense manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, of Poway, Calif., can hardly make them fast enough. The Air Force is said to possess 200.

Mayer writes, “the embrace of the Predator program has occurred with remarkably little public discussion, given that it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force.” Today, Mayer writes, “there is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official U.S. policy.” And according to Gary Solis, who teaches at Georgetown University’s Law Center, nobody in the government calls it assassination. “Not only would we have expressed abhorrence of such a policy a few years ago; we did,” Solis is quoted as saying.
And the arc of instability widens its swath.
David Kilcullen, a counter-insurgency warfare authority who co-authored a study for the Center for New American Security, of Washington, D.C., has suggested the drone attacks have backfired. As he told The New Yorker, “Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially even as drone strikes have increased.”
The CIA have a target list -- "367 names and included some 50 Afghan drug lords" -- but should demonstrate that the CIA assassination drone program "makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out." Who can the CIA torture to get a false confession for that?

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